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Healing Barley Soup

Healing Barley Soup

When I came down with a double whammy of sniffles and post-birthday-feasting extra weight, I turned to this recipe from my wise grandmother, which includes other healing foods like garlic, onion, herbs and lemon along with the barley. She knew that this inexpensive traditional whole food has been used as a healing agent for centuries. Barley is a potent source of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and Vitamin E, has a low glycemic index, its fiber helps reduce cholesterol and it makes us feel pleasantly full without loading on the calories. The cooked barley has a pasta-like consistency that really satisfies, and this soothing soup always makes me feel better.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I use red, but white or yellow will do just fine), coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 cups good-quality vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (thyme is a good anti-microbial)
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 cup sweet potato, peeled, and diced
3 cups seasonal greens, chopped (I like kale, but turnip greens, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, or spinach will work beautifully)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice per serving
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional, but itís very soothing for scratchy throats)
Fresh herbs for garnish, optional

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and add onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1 or 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and golden but not browned. Add pearl barley, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add stock, thyme, and rosemary. Increase heat to bring soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 hour, until barley is barely tender. Add carrot and sweet potato, and continue cooking 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables have softened. Add greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Use a potato masher to gently crush the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

3. Ladle soup into bowls, adding lemon juice and cayenne pepper (if desired) to each serving, and top with fresh herbs if you like.

Serves 6 to 8.

Read more: Food, All recipes, Soups & Salads, , , ,

By Cait Johnson, author of Witch in the Kitchen (Inner Traditions, 2001).

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Cait Johnson

Cait Johnson, MFA, is the author of six books, including Earth, Water, Fire, and Air: Essential Ways of Connecting to Spirit, Witch in the Kitchen, Celebrating the Great Mother and Tarot Games. She has been a counselor for more than 20 years, and teaches workshops on seasonal elemental approaches to self-healing, conscious eating, and soul-nurturing creativity.

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1:03AM PST on Feb 3, 2013


2:26AM PST on Jan 31, 2013


2:13PM PST on Jan 22, 2013

Greart for this time in the winter with the sun a too infrequent visitor.

7:26AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Sounds tasty, thanks!

5:53PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Also.. Is that sour cream in the picture? It's not mentioned in the recipe.

5:52PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

I've not thought of using sweet potato in soup, great idea!

9:33AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

I love soups any kind, this one looks just
d e l i c i o u s .......yum- thank U

5:20AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

thanks for sharing with us!

5:01AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

thank you

1:52AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Sounds delicious - I love barley!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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